Smart technology is evolving at a rapid rate; it is the era of smart devices. This is especially true when we cast our minds back just two decades to the turn of the 21st Century. This new era of ever-developing smart tech has seen us enjoy little luxuries like never before. Using the Alexa in the Kitchen, our smartphones in the bathroom, smartwatches while out for a jog and our tablets to stream movies in the living room. The latest advancements have drastically changed our lifestyles.
The smartphone has been the biggest gamechanger of them all. Our smartphones give us the flexibility and convenience we now require and slots seamlessly into our busy and hectic schedules. They live in our pockets and are with us wherever we go. It’s fair to say that we’ve never seen anything like it before. Our new flashy devices give us the liberty of connecting to the world no matter where we are, and this is one of the fundamental reasons why we can’t put them down.
However, as convenient as they are, these new pieces of technology are improving but also arguably deteriorating our health. Smartphones and technology alike can, in many ways, carry negative side effects when used for long periods of time. They can affect both our psychological and physical state, often without us even realizing it.
The physical health impact of smart technology
Although smartphones and technology are great, they do hinder our lives and risk limiting the level of physical activity we do daily. These hindrances then turn into habits and can be quite destructive to our health, making us lazy and causing us to procrastinate even more. Here’s a look at a few ways in which our physical state is deteriorating due to smart tech.
1. Excessive Weight Gain
Our smartphones give us access to our favorite sources of entertainment such as games, movies, and social media apps all digitally. With just a few taps of an interactive screen, we can become immersed in virtually any film or TV series imaginable – all from the comfort of our own home, or from the confines of our evening commute. By doing this, we dramatically reduce and worsen our sedentary behavior which invariably leads to a lack of physical activity. Although it doesn’t seem worrying, it is one of the significant factors that contribute to obesity and increases the risks for chronic illness.
2. Disruptive sleeping patterns
Using our phones before going to sleep can directly affect the type and quality of sleep we will receive. The blue light that is emitted from electronic devices such as our smartphones hinders the production of melatonin hormones which our bodies naturally produce to help us nod off.
Without the creation of these hormones, we are less likely to be able to sleep, which is why our sleeping patterns become disrupted. This also leads to feeling increasingly tired during the day and not being able to function correctly.
The disruptive power of the blue lights that our smartphones emit was tested by Harvard researchers who found that 6.5 hours of blue light exposure suppressed melatonin for around three hours. Exposure to green light of comparable brightness was found to cause only 90 minutes of suppression.
Fortunately for the many of us who are experiencing an addiction to their smartphones, there’s clear evidence that manufacturers are waking up to the dangers of disrupted sleep. Apple has released a ‘Night Shift’ function on their handheld devices that automatically shifts the color of its backing light to warmer colors in the evening time as a means of helping users to get a good night’s sleep. While there are plenty of apps available for both iOS and Android owners that offer similar services.
3. Increased physical injury
Being less active due to your smart devices means the muscles in your body will begin to weaken due to using them less. Prolonged use of smart tech can also affect your immune system, which makes you increasingly susceptible to physical injury. Looking at a screen can have adverse effects on eyesight and the brain because of the blue light that is emitted.
Of course, the dangers of using smartphones while driving are profound – texting and driving make users 23 times more likely to be involved in a car crash, while there are also serious ramifications for your posture. Amazingly, Text Neck Syndrome is a real thing and can be caused by excessively tilting your head to look at your phone screen.
The psychological impact of smart technology
1. Demotes social interaction
Using a smartphone can have significant effects on your mood and can play with your emotions. Sometimes this is also heavily dependent on the type of content that we are interacting with. If we are out, using our phones will prevent us from interacting with those around us and our surroundings. This will steal you away from moments and opportunities. They also can, at large, diminish your cognitive abilities in regards to connecting and socializing with other people. The lack of interaction will see people withdraw from society creating many imbalanced mental issues.
2. Decreasing Memory
Although smartphones can be great for collecting memorable moments, they can lead to memory loss. As we become increasingly reliant on technology, to remember things, we lose the capacity to store the information in our minds ourselves, which is what causes us to have memory loss over time. The memories we do remember are more likely to be linked to digital images than our internal memories as taking pictures and videos is popular.
3. Weakening inductive reasoning
Using software such as Google to get answers to questions we don’t know means we become over-reliant on technology. We begin to dilute our own mental intelligence in problem-solving and working out solutions for ourselves. Using technology will reduce our abilities to logically solve the answer with our own mental strength.
How to break away from your smart technology
1. Outdoor activity
Getting out more and connecting with people and nature is an excellent way to break away from your smart tech. It will also help you become physically fit again using your body and muscle as they should, and it will have wonderous phycological effects on your mind. Taking up a sport is also great as it can be used as a distraction, helping you remain disciplined in your task.
2. Reading a book
Reading can be great to occupy and open the mind. However, instead of reading on your smartphone or tables it is better to read a physical book that offers fewer interruptions and is healthier. Doing this will also help you relax.
Hobbies might seem like a daunting word for some, conjuring images of forced-socializing and lots of pro-activeness – it’s an introvert’s nightmare scenario! Bit taking on a more analog pastime can be engaging even if you don’t meet anyone or leave the house. This may be a large factor behind why knitting appears to be making a comeback – while it doesn’t sound like a physically beneficial activity, it helps to improve concentration and can stimulate your mind. It’s also purported to help relieve stress and chronic pain.
Spending time doing things you like can really uplift your physical and mental wellness. Whatever it is you enjoy doing, do it!